With all due respect to the Executive Editor of CJR, as a reader, writer and former editor of an alternative newsweekly, I instinctively look for the person who stands to gain from a point. The back-and-forth on the Florida Sun goes firmly under a “he said, she said” heading. Who knows which has the more reliable memory, Mr. Karpel or Mr. Welch? Both have the same thing to gain, so who cares.
In the case of Boston’s Weekly Dig, however, I was surprised at Michael Hoyt’s defense of his fact-checking employees. In that case, Jeff Lawrence has nothing to gain from bothering to write in but a small laugh, and to share the news that even in the hallowed offices of the Columbia Journalism Review staffers make mistakes. Why would he lie? From what Mr. Hoyt says, now we can infer that not only do staffer make mistakes like other places, they also cover their asses. Why would they lie? Hmmmm, perhaps we should ask Howell Raines.